Note: This recap appears in the Tuesday, Sept. 10 newspaper on Page A6.
WASHINGTON CH — The Athens Bulldogs traveled to take on the Miami Trace Panthers Saturday evening. The Bulldogs (3-2-0) put together a dominant performance, winning 3-0.
Athens goalkeeper, junior Nikki Bean, made three saves, and broke up a handful of Panther runs. The Bulldogs outshot the Panthers 23-3, with 13 of the Bulldogs’ shots being on goal. The junior varsity squad also dominated, with a 5-0 win.
Patient passing and selfless play were hallmarks of the Bulldogs’ performances. Athens head coach JT Schroer said at the end of the evening, “We had solid wins tonight by the varsity and junior varsity. The coaches are happy with how the teams are improving every week. The girls are committed to getting better, and know we have tough games ahead.”
The varsity match saw Athens controlling play from the beginning. A minute into the game, a trio of Bulldog seniors produced a scoring opportunity when Caroline Brandes took a corner kick that found Brigid McSteen, who attempted a header at close range. The attempt was deflected back out to the field, but Lyra Skinner was in position to make a quick strike that sailed just over goal.
Throughout the first half, Athens defenders, senior Madison Schroer, and sophomores Lexey Amsdell and Ava Kristofco were positioned upfield to make outstanding passes, essentially adding three midfielders to the mix. And the reliable play from senior center backs Hannah Schulz and Emma Dabelko tracking down the rare Panther attack, kept the Bulldog faithful in a state of calm.
Sophomore midfielders Bella Martin and Karma Fugate were in on the action as well. Fugate showing her characteristic grit in controlling the defensive side of the midfield, and Martin working with the forwards on the attack.
Finally, with nine minutes remaining in the half, McSteen had possession on the left side, and passed to senior Anna Welser in the penalty box. Welser shielded the ball from the Panther defenders, and spotted Brandes open near the penalty mark. Welser curled around the defenders to get the ball to Brandes, who opened the scoring with the first goal for the Bulldogs.
A minute into the second half, Skinner played an excellent through ball from midfield to meet Welser, who had broken through the defense on the left side. Welser dribbled into the penalty box and set up a textbook cross to meet a charging senior Mariah Heflin. Heflin took a strong shot that caught the crossbar, but had enough momentum to bounce into the net.
As coach Schroer continued to rotate forwards, scoring opportunities piled up. Seniors Kattie Jones and Claire Benyei, juniors Sophia Atherton and Elena Delach, sophomore Osha Backus, and freshmen Tess Wilhelm and Annie Moulton all made runs deep into the Panther side. The Bulldogs scored their last goal with ten minutes remaining in the game, when an outstanding Kristofco throw in was chased down by Heflin and brought into the penalty box, attracting the Panther goalkeeper and defenders. Heflin was able to pass the ball to the middle of the box to find an open Benyei who finished with a chip to the back of the net.
Commenting on the Bulldog win, senior co-captain Caroline Brandes said, “I feel we really played well as a team, and we’re beginning to connect through all parts of the field. The success is especially rewarding because this group of seniors has been playing together for such a long time.”
The junior varsity 5-0 win saw a similar effort from the Bulldogs. Defenders Rachel Odunaiya, Paavni Rao, Julia Dick and Isley Newton worked to allow virtually no offense from Miami Trace. The midfielders and forwards including Maya Shaw, Angela Owens, Zoe Carlson, Kyla Kinnard, Patty Yandrich, Addie Wright and Kella Rice hammered the Panther defense, creating many runs and shots. Goals were provided by Annie Moulton (2), Tess Wilhem (2) and Chloe Clevenger (1).